First Presbyterian Church joined the Missouri Union Presbytery (MUP) in becoming partners with the Hungarian Reformed Church in 1985. At that time Hungary was just coming out from under Communist rule. The areas of greatest need were re-establishing the seminary in Saraspatak as they had not been able to train pastors for 50 years and open the high school. We were able to help reopen the high school in 1991 and the seminary in 1992.
Later, our contacts introduced us to the Roma (gypsy) children and their families living in the Ukraine and Romania. These people were forced to give up their wandering under Communist rule and are still discriminated against. Our mission expanded to help them.
Our congregation paid for bath houses and bought a building the Roma use as a multi-purpose church, school and community center. The Roma children attend Roma-only schools for up to four years and then are ready to transition into church or public schools. Special camps also are held for Roma children in the summer.
The future looks promising for the people of Hungary. The Ukraine, however, is struggling. It is a struggle to find teachers fluent in Ukrainian, which slows the progress of fixing churches and schools.
Members of First Presbyterian regularly join representatives from the Missouri Union Presbytery (MUP) to visit the mission sites in Hungary and the Ukraine and maintain our relationships. If you would like to become part of the mission team to Hungary/Ukraine, contact Annelle Bailey.